PhotoStory Project

Chapter I

Black and White Picture

By Diana Blandon

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Chapter II

Sophia kisses like water.

Finally decided to stop at a local pub. It was such a small town but it had been several hours of riding. As I asked for a beer, the bartender inquired about my camera. I was holding my dad’s old Pentax and quickly gave a short response about buying it at an antiques place along the road. Like any bartender on a slow night, he immediately shared with me his own photography fetish and proceeded to tell me several stories about local townsfolk. Tired as I was, most of his words vanished quickly into oblivion. That is, until he started telling me about Tomas. He was the local pharmacist who had apparently gone crazy recently and started carrying a black umbrella everywhere he went. Rain or shine, morning or evening. The umbrella on the chair next to him while eating; holding it in his hands while attending church, placing it on his lap while having a beer at the local pub. He apparently had a tendency to go by the train station and walk for miles on the railroad with his open umbrella.

I knew I should have left the bar at that moment. I should have just finished my beer and gotten on my bike to continue my quest. However, I found myself following the directions from the barman to the local drugstore. Tomas worked there as a pharmacist. He was one of those individuals who would always have a pleasant smile to all customers. Warm, compassionate, average. One of those characters you appreciate being there –behind the counter, but would not otherwise miss if they were gone. I noticed the umbrella as soon as I reached the counter. It was neatly placed on a table. As he came back and handed me the antidepressants, I caught a glance of the bracelet in his hands. Three colors: red, blue, yellow. The number 13 in the middle. It all dawned on me in half a second: Sophia. The same one I was looking for. Sophia. The storm that entered my life a year ago.

I saw her for the first time on a rainy day. I was sitting on a bench as she walked down the street. Our eyes met, amazed at finding someone else crazy enough to peacefully stand outside in such stormy weather. We looked at each other for the longest time. No words. No movements. She finally sat by me and asked my name. While having coffee at her place, she asked questions like what was my favorite number and how long had I been a photographer. However, she refused to reveal much about herself. This was fine with me; I was mesmerized with her beauty. I was lost in her bright black eyes, hypnotized by the tone of her skin, numb with the view of her petite waist in jeans. Then, she kissed me. Sophia kisses like water. She is liquid. A fiery storm dampening your every sense. An intense cascade washing away your prejudices. The fearless sea teaching you how to sin. Sophia. Liquid that would become your every desire. She is the never-ending river you wish to embark on.

I saw the number in Tomas’ bracelet. Thirteen. I knew immediately that thirteen was his favorite number. I also knew that she had spent thirteen days with him. Turning his world upside down to later disappear completely. Unable to regain peace, he then holds onto that umbrella at all times. The best -and only- thing he has to remember the storm that also entered his life. Thirteen days with Sophia are more than enough to madden anybody.

I also have a bracelet. My favorite number is forty-six. Sophia kisses like water. I spent forty-six days of liquid paradise with her. The best forty-six moons of my entire life. I have been looking for her since she left me…

Sophia kisses like water.

Story's fragment written by: Ivan Segura

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Chapter III

Water Kiss

By Marcelo Novo

-Colored Pencil, 6x4 inches-

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Chapter IV

Love is but a tender kiss. With unrelenting passion, it suffuses through the soul and quickens it, stirring it into life. That was my fortune, my destiny in meeting Sophia: to love her for forty-six days and, nights; a destination undefined, but carried by my adoration for her being. Or was it lust, not love that manipulates me in search of her? How could I have lost her loving tenderness? My tears begin to flow, smothering my cheeks, I choke with anguish. There is no reprieve, only everlasting loneliness. Endlessly, I search for her in every passer-by, on every sidewalk, in every place traversed and dwelled, and yet I find her not: a void, an empty space - she is now gone, faded like an evening breeze languishing on a summer’s day.

Now, I understand Tomas, his torment, his affliction, his desolation; his search for respite and direction on a rail: a quest for meaning, walking straight to no where with only his umbrella as his hope and insulation. Tomas, a man of science, a pharmacist with understanding of compounds, forfeiting his rationality, lost in a world of uncertainty, plagued by Sophia’s memory. I understand his agony, his loss, for it is mine also - forty-six days of love, and bondage to a life of memory. Sophia with a siren’s face and voice, and elegant satin form, and hands of velvet rose, calls out to me. Sophia, like a breath of life, causes me to want for love, a kiss, an amorous embrace. I understand Tomas, his torment, seeking refuge in his umbrella.

There is a darkness in my head, a vapor in my midst, a mist surrounding me. It seems surreal, ethereal, and yet so real. Sophia. I see her with mine eyes, scent her with my nose, and hear her voice. She calls to me . . . I touch her with my fingertips, Sophia, Sophia. I sense her tender kiss, her warm embrace, her regal splendor. I feel her warmth, her sigh, her loving lips. She smiles at me, and I surrender. I know Sophia is here. Suddenly, the clouds of mist subside, swooning from the darkness into light. I see her fade, recede, like a mirage undone, I’m loosing her. I yell, “Sophia, Sophia,” but the mist diminishes with her. I now realize that this is but a dream . . . and agony begins anew. “I’ve lost Sophia. I’ve lost Sophia. Where is my wondrous Sophia?

Now that she’s gone, I walk alone once more. I travel on a lonely road, estranged from all that’s dear. In many ways, I am Tomas, bereaved by the great loss sustained, but I will vow to search - searching for Sophia. My pain refuses to desist, and I realize that nothing will be altered in the morrow. But I search on. In discontent, I walk the city streets, crying out, crying out, crying for Sophia.

Story's fragment written by: Lad Santiago

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Chapter V

There She Is!!!

By Cristian Diaz

-Pencil Sketch on Paper-

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Chapter VI

As I continue to search for Sophia, one question remains in my mind. Sophia, why do you devour every single male that crosses you? Knowing my pain and after seeing Tomas, I wonder if your heart has been broken as ours have... Someone from your hometown must have broken your heart, must have killed your soul. This is why you migrate from your small town looking for revenge in every man that has the fortune and disgrace to cross you. No one with a true soul could do the things you do.

In my mad quest to research your life, I have found that your beauty has always been a problem for you. Since your younger days, women have hated you and men have always felt an insane passion to posses you. Such ambivalence is a big dilemma for a young girl with no guidance of a family. Where was your family? Why does nobody know of your ancestors? Are you real? Were we real? Maybe you are a Greek Goddess that comes from nowhere or maybe you are a mermaid that emerged from the deepest sea. Being a mermaid best suits you because… Sophia you kiss like water. As I recall from your kisses, I recall the feeling of drowning in your passion. With every kiss you saved me, but also killed me in the end.

I've been following your steps and every time I think I've reached you, I lose you. Just as I lose water in my hands. Like water you can't hold. For years I've been looking for you. I have had no work, surviving only on money that I have made selling my photographs in every small town that I've searched for you, for your beauty… for your love. Will I ever find it?

So far, all I have found are thirteen different men that all show the same madness as me. That madness is you Sophia. The only difference is the amount of time each of them spend with you. Sadly enough, that time depends on our favorite number. One man I found had a bracelet with the 365 engrave on it! I thought to myself, how lucky he was to have spent 365 days with you!! Why I didn't tell you that my favorite number was infinity? If I had done so, I could have had you until death took either of us. That thought is driving me crazy.

As my search for you continues, so does time. They say time heals all wounds and I wish I could agree. I am living sleepless nights and a fierce anger with every man that has loved you. Your body is sacred to me… My madness rises every time I imagine someone touching your beautiful body that was once mine… mine!! Your body… your perfect and sexy body that I captured with my dad's old Pentax. Those photos were my treasure. Two years ago, as I slept in a small cottage on the beach, my treasure was stolen from me. Just as you vanished, so did your photos.

Although it has been three years since I last held you, I still remember our bedroom in that small hotel in the mountains. It was a rainy day and you told me that you needed to walk in the rain… that you have to be alone to feel the cool water run down your body. I respected your feelings and let you walk alone with no thought to the fact that it was our forty-sixth day of liquid passion. How was I to know that this would be the last day you would allow me to love you? After you vanished, with a premonition that something was wrong, I still waited for you for three long days. For three days and very long nights, I waited for your fiery love, for your liquid kisses, that once fed every cell of my body and had cured every wound caused by my past lovers. With you I was in paradise… now I'm living my own hell.

Sophia you kissed me like water.

Story's fragment written by: Itsia Vanegas

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Chapter VII

Sophia's Passion

Photography by Manuel Gaetan

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Chapter VIII

“How much of this is true?”

The room filled up again with that rancid silence that sinks in the back of your mouth. It was his house, the house of one that had long forgotten how to move forward with time. Amongst that overwhelming disarray of things, two things quickly caught her attention: a bicycle, half way broken and leaning against a bookshelf, and a black umbrella, resting in an awkward horizontal balance, its handle hooked to the bicycle’s, its bottom tip just reaching the bike’s seat. Both of them invisible until then, imperceptible in front of her eyes until she found that written reference that made them recipients of some absurd sense. Without dwelling to much in the thought, she thought of how reality is invented by the second, following the whimsical shift of value we give to the things that surround us.

“How much of this is true” not spoken this time but echoed in her head. Everything seemed to evolve slower in the frame of this very much unexpected scene: it took her half an eternity to lay down on the coffee table, next to a handful of bracelets, that little notebook from which she had been reading just a moment ago. Her husband was on the other side of that immense window facing the street. In the car, waiting, attentive, ready, just a few feet away but a world apart from what was taking place then and there.

“Somehow, it bothers me to tell you” – said between clinging teeth that tried not to let out something resembling a grin- “but, on the other hand it causes me this silly pleasure”- her voice a little shaky, the words cautiously separated – “What got to you? Was… was it watching “love in the time of cholera”, or whatever the title is?”

“What are you saying?” leaning against the back of the couch, hands resting in the inside of his thighs, legs half way stretched, gazing out the huge window. What are you saying, words spoken out too easily, too monotone, too comfortably, almost as if they had been rehearsed.

“That these diaries are fantasy filled. That you act as a child. That… that is what I am saying.”

“You were the one who said that the past is the only thing that really belongs to us” – he interrupted her, not raising his voice, but with a firmness that had long not colored his speech. “The only thing on which we exert actual control”

“Yes, I said so, but that doesn’t make it true. It’s obvious you choose what to believe.” She held her breath in, exhaled slowly and using the last puff she said with sadness: “this is something else”. With her voice and gesture she emphasized “this” like it held a secret, or better yet, the key to the secret.

It had been a strange conversation, inhabited more by silences than by words. A conversation taken up by reflections, brief journeys to a past that in principle should have been the same. Certainty had abandoned both of them.

From the corner of her eye, without really trying to do so, she got a look at the big digital clock on the kitchen counter. Blinking the seconds away, flickering their lives away. The recollection of having been there before, of having seen a clock and feeling suffocated with the rapid onward motion of time going nowhere… all of these together seized her and she was reminded of her courage to take charge of life. If asked how, she would not have known, but she realized then she would have no regrets whatsoever of having come, of giving consent to help that man’s family.

“Look, Julio, don’t you think I easily forget the way things were, the things that happened, your treating me like your possession. Don’t believe that this stupid obsession of yours, stalking me…” She paused for air. “Don’t you think I can…” She paused for words but did not find them. “Look, don’t expect sympathy. You are a victim of yourself, Julio”.

“And don’t you dare to think you know what I think or want. Don’t you dare to try to think for me! Look where it has taken you already. Open your eyes, Julio, wide open, and look back. That story you recall is not mine, I’m sorry. My story with you… I kiss like water, and you wanted to make of us a puddle. Yes a puddle… Hold back the water. You can’t fence the water…”

She composed herself. “No Julio, no. That’s not my story and you don’t make yourself a service by denying it. My story is something else”.

Story's fragment written by Santiago Sandi

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Chapter IX


Tattoo Designed by Andrei Salamanca

Color Markers on Skin

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Chapter X

Because of you

Everything was so confusing,
your face, your look, your smile...
everything told me you loved me
but your actions were so sad.

You had my heart, and you knew it,
that was the reason you played;
everything you wanted I used to do it,
no matter what you will ask.

My first love, my first kiss, my first everything
all that made me who I am today.
All that love now is nothing,
and I can't find no escape.

My days pass with different faces,
different arms hug me now,
but when I think what I am feeling is love
I know is time to run again.

That is the way I survived
to all the pain you made me,
this is a never end history.

I have your stamp in my body,
725, the days you made me happy
until you decided to leave.

You started this game...and I learned it,
now it is time for me to have fun.

Poem by Tatiana Diaz

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Chapter XI

Photo Montage by Mauricio Ottich

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Chapter XII

I was looking out the window when I saw you, walking slowly down the street. When you looked at me and gave me that sad smile, somehow I knew you were one more, but not like the rest. Even exhausted and frustrated, there was something about you, something Sophia never gives: There was hope. Hope that brought you to this small town she comes back to when she’s “finished” with somebody. Hope I didn’t have the guts to destroy. How could I do that? How could I tell you she enjoyed watching you beg when she threatened to leave you? “I think I did a fine job messing this one up for life”. That’s what she said about you. But I didn’t dare destroying your faith in people-in women- by letting you know that. There was so much light around you, so much life in your words…I didn’t want to see them disappear. I wanted to prove her wrong. Besides, I knew there was not a thing anyone could say to make your love turn into hate. Not then. I could tell by the look in those beautiful eyes of yours when you talked about her. Your heart was hers. Your tender, naive, broken heart belonged to Sophia.
Still, as much as I wanted to protect you from it all, sometimes I wished you knew. I wished you’d seen the look in her eyes when she came back here with one more “victory” to brag about. Though I knew at that very moment you would stop being you. That was too high a price.

Everyday I hoped and prayed for you not to start asking me what I knew. I should’ve known better. I should’ve known our biggest fears often become realities. So today, a perfect Sunday, that’s exactly what you do. “Have you seen her? Has she talked to you? Has she told you why she left like that?” Well, then. At this point I can’t lie to you, so I will tell you a story like others you probably heard before. Only this time you get to be part of it. Hold on tight. Road is rough ahead.

Sophia was very young. I remember her talking about this “nice” woman I didn’t know anything about, in a tender, trusting tone. I think she felt protected and loved. Then everything changed. She was sometimes happy, some other very sad, always writing her thoughts, totally oblivious and indifferent. Once I didn’t hear from her for months. And then one day she came back, she slammed her bedroom door, and wouldn’t come out for three days. When I finally decided it was time for that to stop, I opened her door just to find an empty room, and a note in the mirror. “Don’t try to find me. I’m dead”. That scared the hell out of me. Of course I did exactly the opposite and tried to find her. No luck. So I waited. And prayed (something I hadn’t done in years). When she came back home, or what was left of it since she left, I talked to her, took her places, even paid for therapy. But it was like there was this huge wall between her and the rest of the world, including me. I couldn’t save her. I had no choice but watch her become this dark, ruthless woman. She let her heart die. Not to feel again, I guess. And so her “adventures” began.

One time she seemed especially triumphant. I was afraid to ask why, but I didn’t need to. She told me all about it. That man caught her leaving. He tried to stop her, but of course couldn’t. You know why. His number was up. It was time to leave, so she did. The next day she went back to get her things, and she found out he killed himself, as he swore to do if she left. You had to see her face to believe how genuinely proud she was of the fact that he did it FOR HER. I knew then she was beyond any help I could offer.
I don’t want you to think I find satisfaction telling you all this. I don’t. I would give anything to make things different. It hurts, you know? In spite of everything, I love her. We grew up together, we played and laughed together. We’ve been more than roommates. There is more than just a friendship between us… we share the same blood...

I can see in your face you can’t believe it. It is understandable, really. Sophia and I don’t look alike at all. There is nothing in me that could remind you of her. We are different in every way. So different that while she’s already weaving the next web somewhere, I spend my time dreaming of you since I met you. It might be wrong, but I can’t help to open my heart to you, and ask you…Give me forty-six days to make you forget her. Don’t think about it. Ask yourself what I’ve been wandering… What if I turned out to be everything you need? What if my kiss becomes like a high dose in your veins, like a fire you can’t extinguish? What if I erase everything she wrote in your book, and your favorite number becomes a reminder of your happiness, rather than just memories of someone who kisses like water, loves like water, goes away like water? What if…?

Story's fragment written by Veronica Smith

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Chapter XIII

Digital Drawing by Alexis Figueroa

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Chapter XIV


Like in the darkness of the light that seeps through your pupils,
Revenge shows up in the most precise moment of fear.
With anguish squirming in the blood vessels
Quickly rushing to the neurons in an attempt to
Destroy the very one that created this nonsense,
this insane form of being.

Blindness is merely a lack of light
And with no eyes, one cannot see the truth.
To desire, to lust, to get pleasure from the suffering of others – that’s life, the one that can be lived in one’s own world, with oneself, as the world is oblivious to sin ...

What is in you, only you would recognize.
As long as the smile is intact, the glance is sensual, and the kiss is still soft;
all will be unaware of the illness within until you are gone.
The brain is sick, but only just as sick as the world that falls for it, and likes it.

Possessed is the soul, who falls in the arms of love,
the evil cycle of desire, sex, pleasure, and betrayal.
A girl dressed in white, professing purity in sight,
Yet, underneath she dresses in black -- black lingerie, black skin, black eyes, black heart.

After infinite attempts to find herself in the woods of hope to be pure again,
she stands with her legs open above a puddle of clear water
only to see the reflection of infectious blisters
screaming from her genitals, welcoming all prospects.
Navigating deeper into this darkness, the wall covered in “snapshots” of massacre, slaughter, deterioration forming a trail to the end where evil awaits.

Bruised ovaries …
Sperm swimming in the pool of sin …
Fetuses waiting to birth into darkness, crying black tears …
Life in the placenta is nothing but black blood, feeding hate through the umbilical cord …

Welcome to the world of falsity – the world of Jade. My name is Jade.
All is nothing but obscurity of the blind world that insists in living only in daylight, seeing everything nice and pure.
How much longer will humankind believe this? – for the only thing that exists to the eyes is that which you want to let it see.

Now awaken from the dream,
see the real me.
Death is in the corner of the eye; can’t you see?
Perceive the woman beauty no more, as it is now a shadow of a black cat.

Alone, I ride train #13 towards self-destruction.
Running over his dream, and his dream, and his dream,
Just as He killed mine… or was it me?

In a desperate search for myself, I found fantasies to be only a pigment of my imagination. For so long, I’ve tried to live with the idea that I meant nothing to you, to him, to her. When I found out that my boyfriend Michael who I’d dated for 6 years cheated on me with my twin sister, Sonia, it was heartbreaking; even more painful when he confessed to have been sexually active with 13 other women throughout those years. And from that moment on, everything I do is an attempt to erase the memories, heal from the torture of losing my one and only “love”; The one who took my innocence, my heart, … my halo and my wings; and made me a prisoner of a contagious, incurable disease...

Poem by Maria Bravo Carrillo

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Chapter XV

Photography Art by Indy Deliz

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Chapter XVI

“Darling, oh, darling. Don’t even mention it…I’ll leave all the gruesome details out of my article.” The redhead with the microphone swinging by my side was scheming to get my theories explaining the perversely decorated body we saw in the bottom of the ditch. I got rid of her just with a wave of my hand. I, like my partner Tom, was ready to jump into action and he read my gestures pretty well. He took her out of the restrained area smoothly but quickly. He came back with that smart-ass grin on his face I like so much.

“The kids at Forensics have established time of death around 12:45 AM. The trail of blood starts in the back alley of the Tango Club right there in front of us, the locals have known it for a long time as a meeting place for drug lords. Nobody seems to recognize the face of the victim: female, early thirties, affluent by the way she was dressed and the amount of cash found in her purse. The motif of the murder remains unknown. Strange marks on her body could be identified as numbers: what seems to be a 13, a 46, a 365, and then some more. Among the objects found close to her, clean enough to have been recently placed there, we found a wristband with the number 13, an umbrella, a journal –our murderer seems to be some sort of an artist, and admirer with a broken heart, or perhaps some bloody joker with a sick sense of humor.

I felt pretty tired. It was hard to work in the 101st NYC precinct in Queens. “Don’t see any faces around the place that make me think of our man.” Tom was very good at spotting the killers that come back to the crime scene, take pleasure of looking at the commotion it causes, rejoicing of the attention it gets by the public. “We need to check for similar cases around the state, only if necessary we will have to give the FBI a chance to make us look stupid.” It was not going to be easy to solve this one. No documents that could identify the victim were found in the purse. We would have to scan for prints and check the database for both, victim and killer. I took the journal with me. If it had been left there, it was sure that the killer wanted us to read it, and maybe the key to decipher the crime was right there.

That same night I read the whole text, and was left with a strange sensation. I knew the woman was already dead, but it was the knowing about the passion she had inspired. I found myself somehow obsessed about her. I had a nightmare about her seductive shadow moving behind the screen in my room, all those numbers floating around.

I visited the Tango Club the next evening. The place looked old and dilapidated. Heavy smoke made my eyes hurt; I walked across the room, into the hallway leading to the back door. Somehow I stumbled upon a painting that covered one of the dull walls. It portrayed a kiss, and it was its title that called my attention, “Water Kiss”. I brushed my fingers over the frame. It tilted some and what slipped from the back was a photograph of a man holding an umbrella. I continued my way to the owner’s office. My questioning was useless except that he mentioned that the painting had mysteriously shown up on the wall the same day of the murder and he didn’t know who the artist was. I found my way to the back alley and called Tom to give him an update and no names for him to run a background check on.

Well, revenge was written all over this case. Whoever wrote this story could very well be the author of the crime. Do you get it now? The story itself had been left as the main token by the corpse, as well as the photograph behind the painting, and the painting itself. And this is the end of the story, or not?

That same night like a zombie I followed my steps to her cold chamber at the morgue. I opened it and bent over to kiss her cold lips. Yes, Sophia kisses like water.

Story's fragment written by Lucia Vega

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Chapter XVII

And suddenly...

Painting by Adriana Julian

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Chapter XVIII

Mojave Post Script

Tom Poland

Detective Foster was breaking protocol inviting a freelance journalist to a hot crime scene. “You’ll write about this woman,” he said. Foster should know. He’s seen it all. Executions. Decapitated dancers. Crimes of passion. Mark David Chapman.

There she was, in an alley behind a dance club. Her heart stilled, body cool, dried blood against her skin—raspberry streamers over creamy milk chocolate. There she was not.
Ritual objects surrounded her as if some Japanese cult had worshipped her, a black umbrella—the symbol of Japanese aristocracy—and a Japanese camera, a battered Pentax K-1000.

Her name was Sophia. Greek for Wisdom. But now she was nekros, dead. Foster looked at me then looked away. “Find her parents and see that she makes it home. Ok?” My answer came quick. I had to know more about this woman.

It took Foster three days to determine her surname. Rivera.

It took me a day to find her mother. I phoned her 2,345 miles away in a rain-shadow desert, Mojave. Hearing a strange woman weep doesn’t make your day.

Once the forensic team surrendered Sophia’s body, I arranged for American Airlines to take her home and an odd thing happened. Sophia spoke to me. “You’re the last man to help me” and it felt as if she kissed me. I would take her to the desert and leave her. A ghost lover I didn’t need.

I met her mother, María, in Pioneertown at an abandoned warehouse where graffiti and obscenities on bone-dry boards competed with faint Roman numerals. Desert winds had sandblasted the wood so long the numbers looked ghostly. Maria was as beautiful as Sophia but wiser, seductive, and best of all alive. Still, I couldn’t wait to leave this desolate place.

María led me through the desert. “Sophia grew up in this small movie town perched on the desert’s edge. The girls hated her but the boys worshiped her. Of course, they only wanted one thing. Sophia said, ‘La madre, one day I will leave this arid lowland of lowlifes and live among the clouds. You’ll see.”

Near a tortured juniper, María took me into her arms. “My Sophia was a crystal decanter but the decanter cracked. It could hold just so much wine. Life did not love her.” María broke down and cried against my chest a long time.

“Sophia lived in the Monteverde cloud forest in the Tilarán Mountains.” Maria said, wiping her eyes on my sleeve. “Sophia said, ‘la madre, to be there is to be drenched.”
Sophia, I learned, spent many nights in Fonda Vela with men amid her cries and flowers. Orchids, bromeliads, mosses, and ferns covered the trees there, and Sophia loved them as she did the men who lived for her kisses.

Sophia told María the moistened ferns smell like crushed spices, an uplifting fragrance, the scent of life rising from death.

The cloud forest, said María, gave Sophia a taste for medicine men. María looked across the desert. “She took drugs to deal with all the men who loved her. They fought for her, and she loved her crazed nights in that moist green place where ferns eject green spores into the mists.”

María said having too many lovers forced Sophia to abandon her cloud forest but she dealt with that by writing poems about ferns.

But now she was dead. As María’s husband had long been. María lived alone as we all do eventually.

And so María cremated Sophia. Five people, counting me, set her free beneath a desert sun. The priest was brief and then María poured Sophia into the air. An updraft caught her and carried her higher and higher. Sophia soared away far from water, far from ferns, far from men and then she disappeared into nothingness.

Ashes to ashes and dust to dust. So it is written. That was it. Sophia was dust. I comforted María and we shared the cool desert night.

I left the next morning. My mind swirled with crazy Sophia-María thoughts and then miles later my rental car radio turned itself on. “Her kiss of fire ... I feel the heat of your desert heart ... the heat and the dust increase my desolation.” It was a song your mind sings and sings. You no longer need a radio to hear it. Crazy situation.

As I drove past the brittlebush, creosote bushes, and Joshua trees, twin trails of dust powdered basking iguanas. The song in my head kept playing, riding with me upon rivers of dust of my own creation. In the distance, dust devils whirled, and the rocks changed colors as I streamed through Mojave. It was good to leave the desert.

Not quite an hour later, I drove past 29 palms and green flecks began to stick to my windshield and that haunting feeling swept over me yet again. Dust caked my back window and a familiar voice sang to me. I feel the heat of your desert heart leading me back down the road that leads back to you. I turned my life around. I had but 46 miles to go back to Pioneertown and María.

The End

From time to time, Detective Foster calls. Sophia’s case remains unsolved and María expects it to remain that way.

Story's ending written by Tom Poland

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The PhotoStory Project is an initiative of the SC Hispanic Leadership Council


The Photo Story Project
is an initiative of local Latino artist that aims to create a story told by a series of alternating visual and literary submissions. Our goal is to bring SC Latino artists together for a common artistic venture in order to bridge Hispanic artistry with the American culture.

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Explore our other initiatives

Escuincles Project

The Escuincles Project (pronounced "skwink les") is a collaborative effort of local amateur and professional Hispanic artists to foster an appreciation of the experience, culture, and struggles of Latino childhood.

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SC Latin Poetry Contest

Read the winning poems of the SC Latin Poetry Contest

El TRESome

El TRESome is a creative challenge, a unique art experience involving three Latino artists (each time) coming together for sixty minutes to create three different perspectives of a common theme

PhotoStory Logo and Website designed by Diana Blandon.